Coming Out Day

As we approach the midpoint of ADHD Awareness Month 2016, our LGBTQIA (Queer) brothers and sisters also celebrate National Coming Out Day which was established almost thirty years ago when it wasn’t safe to disclose one’s sexual identity. Although being openly gay is now more widely accepted the fear of coming out remains. Every year on October 11th, the support of this strong community gives many people the courage they need to reveal their true selves to friends and family.

As an openly gay man who came out more than twenty years ago and as a man only recently diagnosed with ADHD, I find the similarities between our communities intriguing. It’s striking that the ADHD community seems to be struggling with many of the issues the Queer community has partially overcome during my lifetime! I hear the same fear, worry and discouragement from fellow ADHDers as I have from gay friends debating whether or not to come out. I find it mind-boggling that in the year 2016 it seems more acceptable to be gay than to have ADHD!

Just as being gay does not define a person, neither does having a diagnosis of ADHD. As more and more people became aware their friends were gay, they soon realized their similarities far outweighed their differences, which diminished the stigma of being gay. It is my belief ADHD can and will become less stigmatized as we fight for awareness and provide facts that counteract opinion.

My dream is that coming out as ADHD will soon be as commonplace as coming out as Queer is today. For me the decision was easy; I refused to go into an “ADHD Closet”. I know this decision is difficult for many people with ADHD. Every person who chooses to come out must feel comfortable in deciding the right time and place to do so. It is ADDA’s hope that by providing knowledge and awareness, this decision will become easier for all ADHDers in the future.

To reach that point, our ADDA community must remain focused on uniting to provide our fellow ADHDers the necessary support in the face of this difficult choice and the challenges of living with ADHD, regardless of the choice you make. In October of every year we celebrate ADHD Awareness Month. We proudly stand as a group and announce to the world that ADHD is indeed very real. You may very well be unaware someone close to you is struggling with this condition. Please know that ADHD is treatable and it does not make the people who suffer from it in any way bad, broken or defective. Education and awareness helped the Queer community, and it will help ours as well.

I am honored to be part of an organization that understands the vital role visibility plays in acceptance for the Queer community. The same visibility is also vital in advancing awareness of ADHD. The leadership of ADDA and I encourage you to take a moment today to reflect on your ADHD journey and that of our Queer brothers and sisters as we both continue to fight for acceptance.

Keith Griffin is an executive function coach for ADHDers and their loved ones. He’s also host of  This ADHD Life. Save over 25% by taking advantage of the special “initial launch” rate! There are only six spaces remaining so don’t wait to schedule your free introductory call

    • Matthew Villarreal
    • January 30, 2019

    Thank you for sharing! I hope that, just as the LGBTQIA+ community has received social attention, ADHD will also become a source of pride for us, and acceptance will increase as people become more aware.

    • Ray
    • April 21, 2017

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this Keith! Awareness of ADHD is indeed an important cause and it’s nice to see individuals like you make progress in moving that needle forward!

    • Sara Irwin
    • March 10, 2017

    Thank you, Keith, for your encouraging remarks. I, too, have the same dual profile as you, and was diagnosed much later for my ADHD. However, I have found it a big challenge. I disclosed and asked for accomodations at my worksite, and it ended up hurting me in the long run, destroying my credibility as a teacher, even with more than 20 years of experience at the same school. Subsequently, I believe it contributed to my losing a job after just two months following my 20 year stint in my previous position. Currently, I am working as a tutor, and am quite happy. I was forced to retire because I had no source of income after losing my last job. I did not want to return to the classroom. I am supplementing my retirement income with my tutoring of students with dyslexia. It is a very rewarding, sometimes quite challenging way of earning a living, as more and more is being learned about this baffling disorder, and I am still learning myself. It has also forced me to confront the chaos of my personal life and living space. I am slowly dealing with that. I believe in the long run it will prove a good thing, although it is very lonely, and that is not so good for me.
    That being said, the issue of being gay contributed to my feeling unsafe at the recent job I ultimately lost. I did not have a clear sense of acceptance of gay folks there, and, when I asked a colleague, was told that there was no problem with it except for the concern about the parents. I was not reassured by that!

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